Commonwealth Point of Light 152. Kevin Butler
Commonwealth Point of Light 152. Rhonda Butler
Rhonda and Kevin Butler, representing Australia, are the founders of ‘BlazeAid’, which has brought together an army of volunteers to clear ground and rebuild fences following devastating bushfires in the country.
Helped by over 1,000 volunteers everyday, and with bases across the country, ‘BlazeAid’ can clear and rebuild over 40km of fencing, securing farmland and providing relief to members of Australia’s rural communities.
Kevin and Rhonda said:
“We started BlazeAid in Australia after the fatal Black Saturday fires in 2009, pledging to help – with local volunteers – a few dozen of our immediate neighbours to rebuild their burnt fencing over 14 days. The idea caught on and in the ensuing 10 years, volunteers have poured in from all over Australia and the world to physically help others impacted by our country’s yearly recurrence of fires, floods and cyclones.
“After almost 250 natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of volunteers, farmers, donors and local communities have teamed together to rebuild 14,000 kilometres of new fencing, 400,000 working days on 9000 devastated farms. The value of work done by ‘BlazeAid’ volunteers who make such a difference to the lives of others – who have lost almost everything they hold dear – is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“‘BlazeAid’ is almost totally volunteerism with just one paid bookkeeper. Today, ‘BlazeAid’ has 26 base camps running over three states from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, throughout New South Wales and right up to the Queensland border following the 2019/20 Australian mega fires last Summer. Volunteers have been working shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of farming families daily, seven days a week non-stop, to rebuild what fires destroyed in just minutes. We wake up every morning being so grateful to the thousands of ‘BlazeAid’ volunteers who selflessly make a massive difference to the physical, and mental health of hundreds of vulnerable country families in these devastated communities.
“We salute all ‘BlazeAid’ volunteers who enrich the lives of others everyday and it is them we humbly accept the award on behalf of – for these wonderful and dedicated volunteers have made ‘BlazeAid’ a most loved and respected Australian charity.”
Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, said:
“I am delighted to virtually present Kevin and Rhonda Butler with this award for their dedication and commitment to both their own community and other communities in Australia who have been impacted by natural disasters – including the recent devastating bushfires. They both demonstrate incredible commitment to ‘BlazeAid’; the volunteers they have recruited and the communities they support. They are making a significant impact on the lives of those that benefit from ‘BlazeAid’s work.”